Great Day for the Tajar and Campers Alike!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We awoke this morning to the Tajar’s folly with all kinds of pranks all over camp.  There were so many things moved and out of place we hardly knew what day it was and where we were.  Tables from the dining room were on Green.  Folks had different name tags on and didn’t even know it.  People were walking backwards thinking they were walking forwards.  Cups were hanging from trees and inner tubes were on the roof and of course the word Tajar was spelled out on the Green with kayak paddles.  Despite all his folly we made it through another wonderful day at camp intact and just ended on a great Tajar Ball note.  More on that later.

I spent some time this morning with climbers who were on their last day of Main Camp Climbing and taking on our two Arborist trees.  Arborist climbing is very different than tree or tower climbing here at camp and originally was used to access trees without spiking the trunk or limbs.  It’s an environmentally friendly way to get up into trees.  Through a series of knots and hitches you literally climb the rope you’re hanging on and inch your way up like a silk worm.  It’s a strenuous workout for legs and arms but you’re able to hang freely while climbing and 98% of the time making no contact with the tree.  I shot some good video today of the two groups that were climbing and am looking forward to using that later in some camp highlight reels.  Also spending some time up high today was cabin Meadowbrook, who was at the ropes course and participating in the Swing by Choice.  Campers wear a chest and sit harness and are secured into a cable that is about six feet off the ground.  Your cabin mates grab a rope and haul you upward till you’re parallel to the ground and you release a short length of cord that acts as a go button and lets you fly in a pendulum arc between two telephone poles.  It’s certainly not for the faint of heart but it’s no worse than most of the rides at a theme park.  It’s probably one of the few things we do at camp that is thrill based and is not so skilled based.  It’s is fun and it’s over pretty quickly.  Regardless, the girls had a blast and the staff participated as well.  There were several cabins getting the last tie dye session in today.  Raines Cove and Meadowbrook were there using every color you could think of and more.  Dye was mostly on the shirts and good thing we wear aprons and gloves or you might have greeted a tie dye hand or two on closing day.  Outdoor Living Skills took a hike to the Rock this afternoon as a signup and only four campers went but they were justly rewarded. It started to rain just before the end of rest hour but let up just after.  A cloudy horizon settled in for our altitude seekers, but by the time they made their way to the top of the mountain it had cleared off.  From the Rock you can see all the way to the Parkway, Mt. Pisgah over to Shining Rock and Devil’s Courthouse.  It’s a great view and you literally look right down on camp.  The last few feet are a scramble but well worth the time and effort to get there.

As the dinner bell rang tonight everyone showed up in costume to celebrate the Tajar’s birthday.  There was a cookout complete with burgers, hotdogs, chips, all the trimmings, watermelon, cole slaw, beans, and the best homemade relish and pickles you’ve ever had.  That was just the beginning of a food fest.  After dinner everyone headed to the soccer field where there was all kinds of activities: Strongman (ring the bell) Challenge, Waterslide, Face Painting, Hay Ride, Tin Can Topple, Corn Hole, Soccer Shootout, Giant Bubbles, Guess the # of M&M’s, Hide the Ping Pong Ball, Football Throw, Balloon Toss (at your counselor) and the Dunk Tank.  There was also ice cream, cookies and snow cones if you didn’t eat enough dinner.  There will be some tired campers tomorrow because after a full day we also went hard until 8:30 this evening playing and having fun.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Mountainside and Riverside returned today and all reported good trips and great adventures.  I saw bits and pieces of campers and staff as they made their way back into the fold.  We look forward to welcoming them back into the dining room tomorrow and I’m sure they will appreciate some good GV home cooking.

Tomorrow morning is the last day of Discovery and we’ll have a special afternoon for everyone at the pool and lake.  Packing of course will happen in the early afternoon tomorrow but it should be another great day at camp.  Stay tuned!

PS  –  Just wanted to provide you with some information about camp and the camping industry in our region.  There are 52 camps in our county and the three counties that surround us. Many more exist throughout the state.  Soon you will receive an evaluation sent to you by Gwynn Valley and Clemson University.  We have been chosen, along with about 25 other camps across the state, to participate in a summer outcomes study that will provide valuable information and meaning to the work we do.  I’m on the North Carolina Youth Camps Board and we’re an organization that has performed an economic impact study here in our region as well as lobbying hard to keep our summers for camp and stay abreast of legislation that affects our industry.  I sincerely hope you will take the time to respond to this valuable tool.  This provides us with feedback to help make our program better.  We appreciate you taking the time to help us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.